Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Papus, Monsieur Philippe & Envoys of Heaven

Like his ‘Spiritual Master’, Papus was a strong partisan of reincarnation, particularly with regard to Maïtre Philippe whom he believed to be one of those exceptional beings who appear from time to time on Earth in much the same way that Jesus of Nazareth descended into the Underworld at the time of the Crucifixion. That is to say who came freely, as an Envoy of Heaven, without the compulsion of any personal karma. Such are characterised by  miraculous powers allied to great modesty.

During his own earthly life Papus felt he had had the good fortune to know one of these beings, along with the ability to make him more widely known.

In his writings on reincarnation Papus suggested  that there was a  tradition that three of these envoys of the Father were always present on Earth, sometimes incarnated together, at other times functioning on different planes. Apart from his healing gifts the one he had known and who had taught him so much, had demonstrated powers over thunder and lightning, and over air and water as manifest in the weather. Much of this is recorded in the personal testimony of those close to him, some of it in circumstances that might seem personal and trivial, but which in its spiritual parallels could be regarded as a ray of sunlight illuminating infernal darkness.

Examples at various levels have been given under guise of fiction in Paul Sédir’s remarkable sequence of tales “Initiations” which I have recently translated for Skylight Press and which reveal different facets of the secret life of Monsieur Philippe.

Such souls reincarnate voluntarily, and truly remember, but make no claims about being great  historical characters. Claimants, even quite sensible people, range from Mary Queen of Scots, through Mary Magdalen and Joan of Arc to Anne Boleyn and even Saint John (still writing at the end of his last incarnation, if with not quite such success!). One can of course speculate about others. Papus considered Joan of Arc to have been one of these Heavenly envoys. How else, he wondered, to explain the military genius of a girl who won three victories on three successive days?  

There could of course be other theories, for as Shakespeare’s great prevaricator cautioned “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, that are dreamed of in your philosophy!” The Roman church has tended to be hostile to any celestial messengers and in the case of Joan, a formidable voice of the people sought a change in the verdict of the ecclesiastical judges who, blinded by politics, had martyred an envoy of Heaven.

However, turning from historical speculation to current situations, Papus summed up his own conclusion by suggesting that our current incarnation is, for the spirit, a ‘magnetisation’ of our future physical lives. Every gift of oneself, beyond self interest, magnetises and spiritualises, which is to say generates light that will become the vehicle of the spirit on another plane. On the other hand, all contraction of the spirit, whether it is called egoism, anger, envy, dislike, materialises and generates clichés of sin that can become fatal for the Astral. Sluggishness will not get us into heaven. Whoever knows, forgives and prays. Material objects, earthly riches, honorifics, are tools conferred for the benefit of others and no one has any right to monopolise them for personal satisfaction.

As far as Papus was concerned, the law of reincarnation is not an invention of the human brain, nor the bastard creation of a delirious imagination. In the same way that the sun rises in the physical world, and banishes the darkness of night in creative light, so is the law of incarnation a sun of the invisible world; dissipating philosophical errors, illuminating souls in their missions, and showing the justice of all actions and reactions on all levels of existence.

Which is all, if one thinks about it, rather more than a divine system of cost accounting or double entry book keeping.


Sunday, June 11, 2017


More Papus on Reincarnation

To  continue a little further with Papus’ book  Reincarnation:  Physical, Astral and Spiritual Evolution – the Spirit before Birth and after Death.

Those he considers to have studied reincarnation most were the ancient Egyptians, who claimed that during life the spirit controlled all acts of the body by means of forces emanating from the region of heaven where the pole star was found; which is why entry to the Pyramids always faced that direction.

After death, the Egyptians conserved the physical body by salting it for three months, then injecting spices, thus preventing by mummification the dispersal of the physical cells, and fixing all round the body the astral force that would preside over the decomposition of these cells. They went further than that with a complicated magical ceremony by which they evoked the astral forces around the pole star, infusing them in the double of the reincarnated mummy, either in the mummy itself or in little statuettes placed around the mummy.

They thus built veritable underground towns of astral lives and were able to act directly on the earthly astral, fixing for a very long time the pole of civilisation on their country, and retarding the reincarnation of human beings by employing science against the forces of destiny. It would be amazing to realise today the extent of the science of ancient Egypt.

But leaving these exceptions aside and returning to the normal processes of death, at this moment the astral splits into two parts. One section forms the ‘chariot of the soul’  enveloping the spirit, with the other enveloping the physical body that is about to decompose.

If the human being has built its ‘chariot of the soul’ well, so that images (or ‘clichés) of good, or devotion, form luminous stars in the astral matrix, then evolution of the future astral body will be assured.

Here he considers an extremely important problem. Experts have remarked that the series of living organisms on earth form a sort of well characterised hierarchy; the bodies of some living beings being little different from the bodies of immediate inferior or superior beings. This idea presides over the question of evolution of animated beings so dear to Darwinists. 

It is impossible to describe the existence of this evolution, in its general conditions, on Earth. There is certainly a transformation of organs, adaptations to the environment, but not the evolution of the body of a dog into the body of a monkey, or the body of a monkey into the body of a man. The reason is simple, it is that evolution works not during physical incarnation but during the astral state that immediately follows physical death.

 This, he claims, is the moment when the astral body evolves, or transforms, and becomes the origin of the astral body of an immediately superior being. In its turn this astral body forms the physical organs, which is how a physical being of an order immediately superior comes about on Earth, incarnating on a higher level of the spiral of development. All physical bodies in nature evolve, constituting the physical body of a human being, but this process happens on the astral plane.

Thus, when after an astral repose more or less prolonged according to the individual about to reincarnate, the moment of reincarnation arrives, the future astral body differs from the preceding one according to the conduct of the anterior life of the incarnated spirit. This is the origin of beauty or ugliness of the future physical body, of the strength or weakness of future organs, of the power of elevation of the astral forces, of the sign of the zodiac by which the forces surround the spirit, along with all the secret laws of spiritual reincarnation.

Popular stories have presented this astral influence in the form of good or bad fairies around the cradle.

At the moment of conception, the force of attraction of the future parents will be at their most intense, that is to say, the astral forces which determine the physical, moral and spiritual health. It is thus that parents protected by heaven, uniting their forces with that of the sun, will incarnate spirits with the most evolved astral bodies. Conception is thus an extremely serious act from the point of view of astral forces, so it is not surprising that social customs and laws have developed around the regulation of love, marriage and its social consequences.

Those who fall short of the high ideals so associated are likely to attract and be surrounded by inferior astral forces. And another social problem is presented due to a lack of regard to the reincarnation of spiritual principles.

Thursday, June 01, 2017


Papus on reincarnation

In the first of his weighty occult books – Elementary Treatise on Occult Science (Traité Élémentaire de Science Occulte) of 1888 – Papus makes little mention of Reincarnation. In fact by just one word as a passing reference in a single paragraph. And it was not until 1912 that he got round to a book devoted entirely to the subject, La Réincarnation.  

His initial reluctance may have been influenced by Eliphas Levi, who in his History of Magic, apart from a brief mention of Pythagoras, was also short on the subject – as follows:

 “Pythagoras believed above all things in the soul’s immortality and in the perpetuity of life. The endless succession of summer and winter, day and night, sleeping and waking, illustrated amply for him the phenomenon of death. For him also the particular immortality of human souls consisted in persistence of memory. He is said to have been conscious of his previous incarnations, and if the report is true it was something suggested by his reminiscences, for such a man as he could have been neither imposter nor fool. It is probable that he came upon former memories in his dreams, while simple speculation and hypothesis have been constructed as positive affirmation on his part.”

(A E Waite’s translation, to which he added a typical snooty footnote: “It happens that the hypothesis of reincarnation was personally unwelcome to Eliphas Levi, and he did not know enough of Zoharic Kabalism to realise that it is of some importance therein.”

Whatever Eliphas Levi knew or did not, there was little teaching on the subject in the West until the latter half of the 19th century, via the Theosophical Society and a French version of Spiritualism promoted by Alan Kardac. Generally speaking reincarnation was not on the menu in the great traditions of Western esotericism.  

Papus shows an ironic sense of humour in his opening paragraph: “If, as we firmly believe, something of us subsists on another plane, it is a state to which we shall all be called, sooner or later, to experience. So why quarrel about it in advance?”

And goes on to say: “Physical existence is divided between the dead and the living, who are the last to solve the problem, and here the cerebral maturity of each of us comes in.

“For some, Death is the end of all that Nature has made until now. Intelligence, feelings, affections, all suddenly vanish and the body becomes vegetable, mineral or gas according to natural process.

“For others, Death is a liberation. The Soul, all light, departs from the body and flies up to the heavens, surrounded by angels and glorious spirits.

“Between these two extreme opinions all intermediary beliefs exist.

Pantheists base the Personality of the Dead in the great currents of Universal Life. Mystics teach that the liberated Spirit, freed from the chains of matter, continues to live, attempting by its sacrifice to save others who still suffer on Earth. Initiates of the various schools follow the evolution of being on diverse planes of nature up to the moment when it will return, and by its desire take on a new physical body on the Planet where it has not yet finished ‘paying’ its dues. Death for one’s country almost always frees the Spirit from a return or reincarnation.”  

A classic  patriotic sentiment (Dolce et decorum est pro patria mori) probably more popular in 1912 than after 1914 with the exploitation of mechanised slaughter which brought about Papus’s transition in 1916.   

How many opinions, disputes, polemics, remarks Papus, for a natural fact of which we are assured to see the solution!  

If asked for his opinion, Papus would say the Dead of the Earth are the Living on another plane of evolution. In his opinion Nature is a miser that loses nothing in any of its efforts. The brain of an artist or savant represents years and years of slow evolution. Why should this suddenly be lost?

 When a close relation is on a journey in a far country, you can follow them in thought when your heart is calm. He would like to give the reader the realisation that the dead have not disappeared for ever; but are travellers on another plane across a country to which we will all normally go.

“Heaven is where the heart is”, said Swedenborg. After a period of more or less long sleep without suffering, since there is no longer terrestrial matter, the Spirit awakes and begins a new existence. It attaches at first to those it has left on Earth and may seek to communicate with them by dream or some intermediary that might be found. We should not force communication between different planes, which are always delicate and could present certain dangers. When, after a sincere desire, or an ardent prayer accompanied by an act of physical, moral or intellectual charity, the Spirit is allowed to make contact, there is always a way that will not frighten an earthly personality.

On the other hand, if one tries to force communication, one  risks being tricked by the brain of the ‘medium’ who, unconsciously repeats ideas dear to the consultant, by temporary images, animated photographs floating in the astral, or via beings who serve themselves or the medium to seize a little material existence.

It is thus wise to wait for news of the traveller. It needs calm to obtain the certainty of their effective existence over there, and then think much of the traveller with the magnet of love and not of despair and tears, and then, very gently, the veil will lift, a sweet murmur fill the heart, the frisson of the presence of the beyond appear, and little by little a great mystery be revealed.

So much for Papus take on psychic communication with the departed, but what about those who have passed on further, to possible reincarnation in a different body or personality? Here he launches into a technical analysis based upon ancient Egyptian religious practice.

(To be continued)